THE BLACKTOP INTERVIEW
A 4th Blacktop was always on the cards (to best reproduce album tracks, etc) and GB and I had been talking for some time so getting Dean and Jamie on board to complete the line-up has been a real pleasure, all the guys are great players and very nice people too.
How did you find the first Blacktop gig with the new line-up?
Our first gig was a very positive experience. The band played so well (all the guys were on form) and the audience reaction made it a win/win night for us all. I’m very excited about the band’s future.
What was it like working with the new guys for the first time in the studio?
Studio time is always a different animal from live stage work – just as exciting, but different – so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I needn’t have worried though. As the day progressed we had such an enjoyable, creative and professional time together. The end result is a new single ‘Robinson’s Shaft’ to be proud of.
” Three into Four is a perfect fit. The future’s very exciting ” – Keith
Who are your influences?
Mainly guitar slingers I guess and like so many of my generation, Clapton was an icon and certainly my inspiration to play. His free form guitar playing with Cream – always with one foot in the blues – also introduced me to legends like Robert Johnson too. The remaining list is quite extensive but some of the top names include Paul Kossoff, Peter Haycock and David Grissom however I should also cite Bob Dylan too for his very influential songwriting skills.
Favourite album of all time?
Fire & Water by Free without a doubt.
Picking a favourite is difficult with the new line up playing so well, but I guess ‘Money in My Pocket’ is still a song that sits a little above the rest.
How old were you when you got your first guitar and what was it?
No Name, No Action – in fact think my first guitar had been used to cut cheese in a previous life! – but hey, I knew nothing of ‘set-up’, ‘string gauges’, even tuning at the age of nine (“What, you have to tune it to a set of pitch pipes ?”).
Just the excitement of making some noise, haha. “Crank It Up!”
Tell us a bit about your Blacktop gear…
My No 1 Guitar is still my 95’ Bonnie Raitt ‘Signature’ Strat’ in Desert Sunset Blue. Not everybody’s choice but she’s prefect for me, light and powerful weighing just over 8 lbs and fitted with Texas Specials.
Completing my perfect combination is my 94’ Mesa Boogie 2×12 Maverick combo. Bought new and still the breath of life in my playing.
Both are discontinued items but irreplaceable to me.
Between the two is a very simple pedal board layout of Boss tuner, Cry Baby wah wah, Xotic EP Booster and (sometimes) Boss chorus.
If the building was burning down, what one piece of musical equipment would you save?
The Bonnie Raitt Strat’, totally irreplaceable.
When was the last time you practiced and what did you play?
Aah practicing! Today and every day with improvised lead work – personally, some of my best songs have started out this way!
A good friend of mine, no longer with us sadly, introduced me to his 5 P’s Mantra – ‘Persistant Practicing Prevents Piss Poor Performances, so ….. !
Any rituals or routines before you play live, or after you finish?
Sadly yes… “Present The Duck”: She sits on top of the Mesa to oversee the gig!
“Tie Up The Bandana Mojo”: Wrapped around the mike stand for good karma is a Yin/Yang head scarf.
“Chamfer The Picks”: The re-shaping and edge smoothing of my picks for the night with a very old sanding block.
I could go on (lucky underpants!) but I fear it might lead to my committal!
What’s your message to Blacktop supporters regarding the future of the band?
Three into Four is a perfect fit. The future’s very exciting, The Future’s Blacktop.